I have always felt one of the devil’s biggest lies is that Christians are fools, setting themselves up for failure and humiliation if they aspire to become saints. The king of lies implies that saints are weirdos with supernatural nobility who go around levitating, performing miracles, and having conversations with Jesus over coffee.
If saints are perfect robots of extraordinary piety, after all, we misfit souls are delusional if we yearn to become one. History, however, has proven that sanctity is not so much about what one brings to the game but, more often than not, how one leaves it all out on the field of daily life on this earth by serving the loving model of Christ Our Lord. A most recent model of such dedication to Jesus amid an oblivious world is someone who may one day join the ranks of saints, a young Irishwoman by the name of Sister Clare Crockett.
Between the apostles, greats like Augustine, Francis, Joan, Teresa of Avila, and Aquinas, sainthood seems more a lesson in distant history than any contemporary example of how to reach the major leagues of our faith. Fortunately, more recent examples such as Phillip Neri, Bernadette, The Little Flower, Francisco and Jacinta, Padre Pio, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and John Paul II make it possible for us to see photos of those who have earned the word saint before their names. There is no doubt this more recent influx of saints in our midst has provided us with vivid examples of how to carve a path toward Christ on the fast lane. These more contemporary lights in an increasingly dark world provide us with the true traits more often seen in saints than floating prayer, visions of heaven, and attention-grabbing miracles of nature.
The Common Threads
Devotion to a cause, consistency, selfless humility, an inspirational simplicity, spiritual wisdom, and a relentless yet often quiet ability to rise from struggles are the hallmarks of sanctity we see in many of the saints. At the end of the day, saints suffer as we do and even more. At the end of the day, they struggle to achieve and understand what confronts them on a daily basis as we do as well. I am sure we can all exhibit moments of great devotion, consistency, dedication, selflessness, inspiration, and even relentless drive toward our goals. What separates us from those confirmed as saints, it seems to me, is the degree to which we can truly nurture spiritual wisdom borne out of profound, selfless humility and simplicity. These last group of traits struggle to survive, much less thrive, in this increasingly complex, impersonal, and self-obsessed world.
A Not so Ironic Irony
One most often finds the lives of saints personified irony. Bernadette was a poor student who exhibited profound simplicity and humility. Therese of Lisieux exhibited a childlike innocence laced with great spiritual maturity. Teresa of Avila and Mother Teresa both grappled with their faith yet provide wonderful insight on how to persevere despite such struggles. Augustine was transformed from a hedonistic party animal into a transcendent theologian. Ultimately, we find that Paul was not alone off that horse. He had the company of most, if not all, of the saints that came before and after him. In one way or another, saints are often lessons in conversion, often of the most ironic kind.
Clare Crockett was a young Irishwoman who lit up a room with her bubbling personality and unmistakable star talent. She was well on her way to a successful acting career and limitless celebrity. She readily, regularly, and very publicly admitted dreams of becoming a world famous cinema star, and clearly had the tools to achieve that goal. She exhibited great artistic talent, a beautiful voice, an attractive appearance, and an overwhelming personality. She was hired as a presenter of a popular young people’s program in the UK at age 15 and had caught the eye of Nickelodeon by age 17. Clare Crockett’s bravado and drive to become a world famous talent were well on its way to fruition.
On a fateful Good Friday, Clare became powerfully aware of Christ’s loving sacrifice for her as she kissed the crucifix. From that, little by little, and not without stumbles and temptations to flee, During that process, she exhibited the tug-of-war between her old and new selves, often declaring, while smoking, that she would become a famous nun. Eventually, however, Clare’s entire existence was immersed in humble, simple, selfless service of others, particularly children, as a nun in the Order of the Servants of the Home of the Mother headquartered in Spain. She traveled to many parts of the world working with marginalized, troubled teens, and exhibited a great zeal for souls, especially young ones, eventually settling in Playa Prieta, Ecuador, where she taught, and won over, even the most troubled teens.
Along with a fellow sister, She composed, and performed, beautiful songs of praise to the Lord which touched the hearts of her young students. This young nun born in the violence of Derry in Northern Ireland who was so full of love, faith, and peace was often seen playing guitar with her students. She even entered the jungles to evangelize its inhabitants. Powerful floods in April of 2016 were followed by arduous cleanup efforts to prepare the school for its opening a few weeks later. On April 16, 2016, Sister Clare Crockett was killed along with a number of her students during an earthquake while doing what she loved best, playing the guitar and singing in praise of God with the young souls entrusted to her.
Sister Clare had indeed become a famous nun but, unlike the version she boasted about in the early stages of her transformation, this rendition of fame was accessory to an unbridled passion and zeal for bringing souls to Christ through example, word, song, and smiles. She had indeed become a Pied Piper for Christ, replacing the pipe with a guitar and luring young souls to embrace Our Lord as she had. Here was a young woman who replaced drinking, smoking, and partying with selfless, loving service to young souls in the name of Jesus.
The Lesson of Sister Clare
Clare Crockett is most famous for her total dedication to Christ. She often said that every day should be a blank check for Christ leaving Our Lord to decide where our efforts should go. She often said that service to Christ and others is all or nothing. We cannot dip our toes and go halfway when it comes to dedicating ourselves to Our Lord, who went all in for us at Calvary. She transformed her life from one of glorification of self to the glorification of God. She embraced and used her God-given talents as tools of evangelization and no longer the instruments of self-adulation that they had been before. Oh, she still lit up a room when she entered in her white habit. However, this young martyr for souls came to light up a room with her inspiring witness to Christ’s love and proper place in our hearts, minds, and lives.
Clare did exhibit that humble, simple, selfless devotion and dedication overcoming the struggles of this world because, ultimately, she replaced the lure of Hollywood with the promise of eternal joy in Christ we are all called to spread to those who God places before us. At the end of the day, Clare reminds us that our talents do not belong to us but to God, and we are expected to offer them back to Him with interest. She is living proof that we all have the makings of sainthood if only we let Christ work through our talents in loving service to others to bring glory to God. As St. Augustine so beautifully expressed in his masterpiece Confessions, we are all the serving potential of a patient, loving God waiting for our own fiat
Late have I loved Thee, O Lord; and behold,
Thou wast within and I without, and there I sought Thee.
Thou wast with me when I was not with Thee.
Thou didst call, and cry, and burst my deafness.
Thou didst gleam, and glow, and dispel my blindness.
Thou didst touch me, and I burned for Thy peace.
For Thyself Thou hast made us,
And restless our hearts until in Thee they find their ease.
Late have I loved Thee, Thou Beauty ever old and ever new.
2019 Gabriel Garnica